Bail Bondsman: Fees, Collateral, And Terms

Working with a bail bondsman can seem like a stressful proposition. Between the potential fees and fine print, securing your freedom can feel overwhelming.  

Here are some of the ways you can flex your legal rights when you work with a bail bondsman.

Understanding the Fine Print

Bail bondsmen are required to follow both state and Federal statutes for the services they provide. However, some bail bondsmen can use slick contracts to charge extra fees and make it more difficult to recoup full refunds.

  • Processing and Issuing: Some bail contracts include language about processing and issuing fees. Although these fees can sound legit, they are often extra fees included by the bail bondsman to take a cut of your deposit, even when your case is decided. Before you sign a contract with a bail bondsman, spend time reading the contract and request they provide you with a written copy of what a refund will look like. If you notice the refund includes processing and/or issuing fees, request that the bail bondsman remove them. You can also compare how competing bail bond providers in your area price their customers.

Securing Collateral

To secure bail, you must provide the bail bondsman with collateral. In most cases, the collateral you provide must amount to 10 percent of your total bail. In addition to providing the collateral, you must sign a legal document guaranteeing the remainder of the bail if you do not show up for your appointed day in court.

  • Short on Cash: If you don't have the money required to secure bail, you might work with a bail bondsman to hold other types of assets as collateral. These assets can include jewelry, boats, fine art, and other valuable assets. When you provide these alternative forms of collateral, it's important to carefully document the condition of these items before you hand them over to the bail bondsman.
  • Splitting the Collateral: If you need to provide collateral for a friend or family member, you can sometimes bail between several people. Dividing the bail adds protection if you do not receive a full refund and/or the remaining bail becomes outstanding. Before entering into an agreement to help secure bail for someone else, be sure that you fully understand the financial ramifications if things don't go to plan.


If the case is resolved and you show up to your appointed court date, you should receive a full refund from your bail bondsman. This refund should be issued swiftly. 

Reach out to a local bail bondsman to learn more.